Water conservation mandate is extended

A day after ordering north Georgia public utilities to cut water use by 10 percent, Gov. Sonny Perdue extended the mandate to state agencies, requiring them to reduce consumption 10 to 15 percent immediately.


Residents are also encouraged to do their part to save water. You can start with shorter showers.

"The average shower uses 7 gallons per minute, and the average person uses the shower for nine to 10 minutes per person," said Mary Eva Tredway, a spokeswoman for Georgia's WaterSmart water conservation program.

Simply cutting back one minute of each shower, she said, would save about 2,500 gallons per person each year, or more than 7,500 gallons for a three-person household.

Further savings can be made with "low-flow" showerheads that use just 1.75 gallons per minute, she added.

Other tips from the WaterSmart program created by the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority could theoretically help cities the size of Augusta save millions of gallons of water each year:

TOILETS: More water is used to flush the toilet than for any other purpose in the home. Leaking toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day. You can test for leaks by adding food coloring to the toilet tank, and if color appears in the bowl after 30 minutes, you have a leak. Installing a water-efficient, 1.6 gallons-per-flush toilet can save the average-sized family $60 a year, lowering the cost of water and sewer bills.

WASHING MACHINES: By running full loads in the washing machine the average-sized family can save up to 700 gallons of water per month, reducing water bills. You can also adjust water levels for smaller loads. Older machines use more water, so a maintenance check every three or four years can maximize efficiency.

KITCHEN FAUCET AND DISHWASHER: Operate automatic dishwashers only when fully loaded to save on hot water, detergent and energy costs. By using the short cycle on your dishwasher instead of the full cycle, you can save 15 gallons of water per load. Adjust your freezer to reflect the current climate conditions in order to control ice produced by the ice maker. Remember when washing your dishes to limit the amount of hot water usage.

- Rob Pavey, staff